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Mon, Sep 29, 2003

Paint Scraper Grounds Qantas 747s

Overseas Repainting Job Precipitated Crack in Fuselage

Qantas had two 747-400s repainted "in a foreign country," before the airline put them into service in 1998. Now, both planes are gounded, after a crach in one of the planes' fuselages was spoitted in a routine inspection.

It seems that whoever stripped the plane, had used a steel scraper, instead of a plastic one. Steel, a lot tougher than the aluminum the plane is made of, apparently dug out some of the airplane's own metal, creating a stress riser; and over the years, that weakening developed into a crack.

As a precautionary measure, Qantas's other 747-400 that got the same treatment at the same place, has been grounded, pending further inspection.

Australia's CASA has notified the FAA. No other reports of such damage have surfaced in the two weeks since that first crack was found; but, as the damage was discovered only on a "heavy" maintenance check, it is possible other aircraft may face similar problems, which might not get noticed for a while.



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